Fiat Punto simply Grande used buy

Iain Dooley says Fiat's Grande Punto is a competent supermini all-rounder with Italian charm.

Engines – There's no shortage of choice here, with the main focus for many likely to be the Punto's range of petrol engines. These small-capacity units deliver high levels of refinement and will also be kind to your wallet at the pump. For longer-distance motoring Fiat's diesel engine expertise shines through with a small but competent range of quiet yet frugal motors.

Exterior – Fiat's Punto has gone through a few changes in its life and the 'Grande' variant boasts rounded-off corners and projects a generally high-quality image. For many the three-door car will be the most aesthetically pleasing, but the five-door variant maintains most of its cousin's proportions and adds a welcome extra level of practicality.

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Interior – In keeping with the premium image, the Punto's interior successfully projects an above-average quality ambience. Everything still appears to be durable enough to withstand the rigours of daily life, yet doesn't look like it's all been lifted from a 10-year-old car. Crucially there's enough room fore and aft, too.

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Driving – While not quite as polished as, say, Ford's Fiesta in the eyes of keen drivers, the Punto offers a rounded and refined driving experience. Urban duties are dispatched with ease, and the car copes well with road surface imperfections. The petrol engines never feel out of their depth and the diesel units impress with their frugal performance.

Ownership – Do your research and you could be the owner of a well-equipped and competent supermini with enough Italian charm to justify its bonnet badge. A compact machine that's easy to drive and park around town, the Grande Punto is equally at home on motorways and adept at swallowing a growing family's clobber.

What to look for – With no shortage of choice it will pay to shop around and be choosy. Being a supermni, always check for the telltale parking dents and kerbed wheels, while gaps in a car's service history should have you asking questions or walking away. Interior damage can be expensive to put right so, again, walk away and find a better example. Don't forget the test-drive to ensure everything works inside and out.

Model history – 2006, Fiat launches the Grande Punto, a thorough upgrade of its popular Punto supermini. Available with both three and five doors, a choice of small-capacity petrol and diesel engines was offered along with a sliding scale of standard equipment including the likes of alloy wheels, air-con, electric windows, twin front airbags and remote locking.

Reasons to buy – Low cost, diesel and petrol engine performance, spacious cabin, ride quality.

Reasons to beware – Durability, competition from similarly-priced cars, used and abused urban examples, patchy service history.

Pick of the range – Grande Punto 1.4 Active three-door.

What to pay – 2008 08 �5,000; 2008 58 �5,200; 2009 09 �5,625; 2009 59 �5,850; 2010 10 �6,300; 2010 60 �6,600. Showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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